RE: How do you read a User Manual

Subject: RE: How do you read a User Manual
From: "Colin Ramsden" <colin -at- ramsden -dot- info>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2004 00:54:26 +1000

That's fantastic.

Can you make these (or some useful part of your) usability results
available? Even just for objective statistical purposes and analysis?

I'm not concerned with the subjective results of your proprietary product or
its good/bad points. I am, however, VERY interested in the results of how
(and maybe why) your users interacted with your documentation, both printed
and online in a non-proprietary manner.

Please note that I do not (wish to imply that I) question you or your
abilities or the quality of your documentation. I would just like to see how
your users actually used the documentation. It is purely a query of
usability, and as you've stated that your employer has gone to the trouble
of actually performing usability studies of the documentation, I'm
interested in the results, or at least, whatever you're prepared to share
with us for our documentation usability education and edification.

You only mention use of the index. Is that their "primary" entry point for
both printed and online help? Or which? Please share.

Do you have details about "how" your users went about finding what they're

[Insert a further several (hundred) usability questions here.]

Please share with us what you can (given proprietary considerations).

Colin Ramsden.

-----Original Message-----
From: bounce-techwr-l-158987 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
[mailto:bounce-techwr-l-158987 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com] On Behalf Of Fred Sampson
Sent: Wednesday, June 16, 2004 9:25 AM
Subject: RE: How do you read a User Manual

My current employer (a Large Enterprise Software Company) has actually done
usability studies with users of our documentation (which is delivered both
in print and as online help). And, wonder of wonders, some folks are
actually paying attention to the usability studies.

The answer: users go to the index to find what they need (or think they
need); online, they use the index and search about equally. They don't read
from beginning to end.



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